Socio-emotional learning in schools for an enriched learning environment

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The current times call for a need to view education with the demands of the current situation and for this very reason we must make changes to adapt well. The society we live in is constantly changing and for the ever-changing world we also need an education that brings together tools that help students to be not only excellent academically, but also compassionate, responsible to others. and themselves. For this we have to add something in the educational system, that is, socio-emotional learning. At present, education is lacking in SEL which is a very sensitive part of the system. SEL research shows that focusing on the social and emotional aspects of children also helps develop other academic skills from the early years of their lives. In addition, we must take into account that academic and emotional intelligence play a huge role when we talk about education for the whole child.

Even the new education policy recognizes the importance of socio-emotional learning for the holistic development of children from early childhood. “Based on the developments that have taken place in the world of cognitive science, there is now a deep engagement with the idea that these social and emotional skills should be acquired by all learners and that all learners should become more proficient. academically, socially and emotionally ”. (National Education Policy, 2019)

Socio-emotional learning is a new way of looking at education, where students develop skills to be intellectually intelligent and become more kind, compassionate and responsible citizens of society.

Here we will try to understand what SEL is, why it is needed in schools, and some applications.

What is SEL?

As we break down each term separately, we could say that it is “a learning approach that deals with society (social / outer) and oneself (emotional / inner)”. Maurice J Ellias said: “Social and emotional skills, or ’emotional intelligence’, is the name given to the set of abilities that enable students to work with others, learn effectively and play a role. essential in their family, community and workplace. . “(The International Academy of Education, 2003). SEL is a process where children learn self-awareness, management, empathy, responsible decision-making, etc.

SEL instructions are provided in schools to students by incorporating them into the curriculum, activities, games, play, etc. It cultivates a sense of belonging, of caring, of compassion towards each other and also with themselves. Social and emotional learning provides a nurturing environment and enables students to be kinder, compassionate and resilient not only for today, but also for an unpredictable future. These skills equip today’s children with better and positive interventions for tomorrow.

We can also say that SEL is more than a course or a subject. It is not something that is taught once and our job is done. SALT is a goal of life, it is continuous and constantly evolving.

School, content and pedagogy

What we have seen so far is that the curriculum, the content taught in schools mainly focuses on academic excellence and social and emotional learning takes a back seat. Then we say “Education is for a whole child”. When we talk about the child as a whole, why do we only focus on the academic level? As we know, the model of traditional teaching in schools is not today but was designed many years ago according to the needs of the time. The current situation calls for a change of system. This could be achieved when children excel not only academically, but also socially and emotionally.

“What we need to focus on in education is developing a more sustainable and peaceful way of life – with content, pedagogy and assessments that facilitate human development, constituting well-being general of the planet and of humanity. ” (UNESCO MGIEP, The blue point)

How content is delivered in classrooms is highly dependent on teachers. Thus, pedagogy is one of the key factors that help children manage their emotions, cope with them and accept changes. In order for teachers to be able to deliver content through the SEL approach, it is first necessary to focus on themselves. Thus, they are endowed with social and emotional skills, are empathetic and compassionate in order to meet needs and nurture children in emotional intelligence.

A change is needed in school, content and pedagogy in order to find the missing piece i.e. social and emotional learning as well as intellectual intelligence, where both contribute to the education of the child as a whole.

What can we do?

Restructure classrooms and create learning opportunities for students that allow them to assess situations and perspectives from different points of view, being problem solvers and thinkers. It requires a change in the organization of the classroom, especially the way we teach what we want to teach and what children should be taught as needed.

Some practical applications:

  1. In most traditional school systems, working collaboratively is not very important, but when young children work together, get feedback from their peers, it helps them to assess their work from different perspectives, to see what the gaps are and allow them to work on them.
  2. Playing games can also be one of the activities that boost children’s emotional and academic intelligence. UNESCO MGIEP offers commercial off-the-shelf games (COTS) for education. “This is not to use a ‘learning game’ but a commercial game, developed for entertainment purposes as a teaching tool inside or outside of classrooms.” He gives such examples. than Minecraft to teach math, World of Warcraft to teach civics, general science and language, etc.
  3. Conducting activities in classrooms that require children to communicate about events or issues that have deeply affected them in one way or another could enable students to accept the opinions and beliefs of others, thereby which in turn could help students improve their perspective on different people and society as a whole.

“Schools should help grow students – people who know how to direct their own learning and determine their own lives. »(UNESCO MGIEP, Le point bleu)

We know that the structure of the school is where every year we have toppers. This makes the other half of the students losers and former winners, but you should know that this assessment is purely academic. Rather, a school should function as a facilitator, a provider of a nurturing social and emotional learning environment where children thrive and excel together on a variety of specters. Investing in socio-cultural learning from the early stages of a child’s life can be a tool that makes it sufficient and, on a larger scale, helps to develop a compassionate and caring society.

Akshita Bisht graduated in Education from Ambedkar University in Delhi. Her research interests include children’s literature, gender and education, and socio-emotional learning.


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